"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Skype in the Classroom: Ready, Set, Connect!

I recently created and delivered this professional development workshop for some first grade teachers in my district. 

Third Graders vote for the Cook Prize winner

After weeks of reading, my third graders cast their votes for the Cook Prize. The Cook Prize honors the best science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) picture book published for children aged eight to ten. Here are this years finalists:
The third graders and I read the books and discussed them each week. They used the Cook Prize criteria to consider each book.

Accuracy: strict accuracy of content in both text and illustrations
Clarity: concepts and terms defined and explained clearly
Writing: engaging style, rich language
Illustrations/photographs: appealing illustrations/photographs that add information and enhance the text
Format: invites interaction
Organization: material presented in logical, coherent manner
Encourages inquiry: inspires children to further exploration
Research: provides information about research process (in introduction, back matter, and/or in text); acknowledges people connected with research, writing, and illustration of book
Supporting material: includes bibliography, glossary, index, and suggestions for further reading

I have the fun of opening up the ballot box! 

And the winner is:
Journey with 43 votes!

Our honor books are:
Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: 19 votes
Whoosh!: 13 votes
Follow the Moon Home: 11 votes

Along with casting their votes, the third graders had to explain their reasoning.

Some of my students are thinking that the Cook Prize should become a STEAM prize. 
What do you think?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

ReedALOUD: Little Fox in the Forest

The kindergarten students and I read Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin as part of an exploration of wordless picture books. Beautifully-illustrated with enchanting and richly-detailed spreads, this endearing story about friendship and the things we do for those who are our friends (either new or old) captures the readers' heart and imagination. Add this one to your collection.

"When a young girl brings her beloved stuffed fox to the playground, much to her astonishment, a real fox takes off with it! The girl chases the fox into the woods with her friend, the boy, following close behind, but soon the two children lose track of the fox. Wandering deeper and deeper into the forest, they come across a tall hedge with an archway. What do they find on the other side? A marvelous village of miniature stone cottages, tiny treehouses, and, most extraordinary of all, woodland creatures of every shape and size. But where is the little fox? And how will they find him?"

The students loved this enchanting story and understood every nuance of plot, setting, and emotion. 

Numerous small details make this story wonderful, like how the reader knows through the photographs that the young girl has had the stuffed fox since she was a baby. The reader knows how she feels about the stuffed fox. Take a look, you know exactly what is happening and how the characters feel:

The fox and the bear are friends.

The fox wants a friend!

They have not seen her stuffed fox.

The bear HAS seen the fox...

Prior to reading Little Fox in the Forest, we talked about how one reads a wordless picture book - carefully examining the setting, action, body language, and expressions. We read the book over two weeks and, in a testament to the power of this story, three classes of kindergarten students did a fabulous job of recalling events big and small. I used VoiceThread to capture their understanding. (Note: we were never sure whether it was a ferret or weasel that tried to steal the stuffed fox from the fox).
After reading Little Fox in the Forest, it was time for the kindergarten students to practice their wordless storytelling. Before starting they thought about these questions:
Where will your story take place?
Who will be in your story?
What will be happening?
How are the characters feeling?

Have a look at some of their stories. 
They are amazing!